Trump Administration Says Media Lying About Crowd Size

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer Saturday accused various members of the media of engaging in false reporting, said they were making it harder to unite the country, and said the President would take his message directly to the people. President Donald Trump also said in a speech at CIA headquarters that some media were lying about the crowd size.

Spicer pointed to a reporters' Tweet that the bust of Martin Luther King had been removed from the Oval Office--that turned out to have been a mistake and the reporter corrected it--and a Tweeted photo of the inauguration crowd that he said had been intentionally framed "to minimize the enormous support," as well as inaccurate Tweets about the crowd size.

He said that it was in fact, "the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period."

But he also put an exclamation point on it. "These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong."

Various media outlets have characterized President Trump's inaugural speech as divisive and nationalistic. He said the speech was all unifying the country, adding that the "dishonesty in the media" is making that more difficult.

H said some in the media had been "sowing division" with "false narratives, adding: "There's been a lot of talk in the media about the responsibility to hold Donald Trump accountable. And I'm here to tell you that it goes two ways. We're going to hold the press accountable, as well. The American people deserve better. And as long as he serves as the messenger for this incredible movement, he will take his message directly to the American people where his focus will always be."

At his speech at the CIA Saturday (Jan. 21), the President spent some of the time attacking the press, and talking about the size of the crowds.

"I turn on -- and by mistake I get this network," he told the CIA crowd, "and it showed an empty field.  And it said we drew 250,000 people.  Now, that's not bad, but it's a lie.  We had 250,000 people literally around -- you know, in the little bowl that we constructed.  That was 250,000 people.  The rest of the 20-block area, all the way back to the Washington Monument, was packed. So we caught them, and we caught them in a beauty. And I think they're going to pay a big price."

When challenged on the veracity of Spicer’s figures by NBC’s Chuck Todd on Meet the Press Sunday (Jan. 22), Trump aide Kellyanne Conway said Spicer was presenting “alternate facts,” to which Todd responded: “Look, alternative facts are not facts. They're falsehoods.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.